SUNY, CUNY students returning from study abroad programs

Photo by Mike Groll, Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on coronavirus in the Red Room at the State Capitol in Albany on March 4 where he announced that SUNY and CUNY students studying abroad would be returned to the U.S. amid concerns of the spreading coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called off study abroad programs in several countries for SUNY and CUNY students and faculty in light of the recent coronavirus outbreaks worldwide.

Additionally, campus-sponsored trips to impacted countries have been cancelled for the remainder of the spring semester.

Students studying in China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, along with their professors, are currently in contact with their schools to schedule a date back to the United States. They are required to quarantine under various versions when they return.

SUNY and CUNY schools immediately arrange to bring back about 300 students, faculty and staff members to New York. The returning students have been landing at JFK airport in Queens and are being quarantined.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level 2 or Level 3 travel notice in China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan. The New York State Department of Health also raised the concerns over COVID-19 and recommended this decision to Gov. Cuomo after the second confirmed case in Westchester. Since the March 4 press conference, there has been an exponential increase in reports of coronavirus in Westchester County with more than a hundred known positive cases.

The biggest cluster of COVID-19 cases is centered in New Rochelle, Westchester County, and as of March 10 the governor announced a specific plan to prevent further spreading of the virus. Cuomo noted that China has done a good job dealing with the epidemic, and he trusts the New York’s health care systems can do the same.

“Luckily here in New York, we have one of the best health care systems on the globe, period,” Cuomo said. “We are doing everything humanly possible to improve even on that.”

Cuomo told the public not to be frightened.

“Remember the context, you have to take a step back,” Cuomo said. “There are going to be many, many people who test positive. By definition, the more you test, the more people you will find who test positive.”

However, as of March 10, SUNY has determined that all remaining campus-administered study abroad programs for the 2020 spring semester will be cancelled due to the ongoing spread. Students returning from Level 1 countries will not have to undergo a precautionary quarantine.